being and becoming, stillness and movement





'Film is no longer content to preserve the object, enshrouded as it were in an instant [...] The film delivers baroque art from its convulsive catalepsy. Now, for the first time, the image of things is likewise the image of their duration, change mummified as it were.' 

Bazin, A 'The Ontology of the Photographic Image' (trans.  Gray, H) Film Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 4. (Summer, 1960)








As Jonathan Friday writes, although Bazin associates the still photograph with 'being' and the moving image with 'becoming', the photograph does actually concern 'becoming' too. It cannot exist outside of time, because we encounter it in time. Adapting Heraclites' aphorism, he says 
'you can never encounter the same subject matter of a photograph on two separate occasions. Photographs may change over time at a rate of nearly glacial slowness, but they like everything else are in the flow of becoming.'  
Change might be material – such as the yellowing of photographic paper,  or else our perceptions of content may make the image become 'dated' – a photograph of flared trousers or a mother who is now dead.


Friday, J 'Stillness Becoming: Reflections on Bazin, Barthes and Photographic Stillness' in Green, D and Lowry, L (eds.) (2006) Stillness and Time: Photography and the Moving Image Brighton: Photoworks p.48